Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences Cooperative Institute for Research
in Environmental Sciences

Elizabeth Weatherhead Group

Dr. Weatherhead is proud to share a number of awards including the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize for her contributions to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. She has led a number of successful groups to develop programs and increase scientific activity in a number of areas (Arctic research, unmanned aircraft, renewable energy and weather forecasting).  She is a demonstrated leader, equally comfortable working with leaders in industry and academia. 

She has given senate testimony on climate change, led a group of scientists to the hill to discuss weather forecasting, and maintains strong ties with the White House and State Department on issues of the environment.  She most recently (2014) was invited by the State Department to visit India and discuss new Indian-US relations with respect to atmospheric science.

Scientifically, she is often asked to consult on a variety of topics within atmospheric science that require high level statistical or technical expertise. Her background in solar radiation and its affects on all levels of the atmosphere have resulted in a number of publications and governmental reports. Her work on detecting changes in ozone culminated in the cover story on ozone recovery for Nature in 2006. Since then she has worked to establish defensible criteria for identifying when one weather forecasting model is better than another--even when the improvement is extremely small.

Current research interests include the interface between weather and climate, renewable energy, particularly wind and solar, through a better understanding of long-term and short-term resources and predictability.  She will be teaching environmental statistics in Spring, 2016.

Project Development

2001-2006      Arctic Research

                      This effort, supported by the US Dept. of State and NOAA, developed a fifteen country effort to examine Arctic pollution, climate change and ozone depletion.  Dr. Weatherhead worked with the Dept. of State to complete two major assessments, where she was both lead author and a part of the executive team to define the scope and roles of participants.  She coordinated closely with the White House' Arctic Research Commission, leading the ARC to a set of meetings in Boulder to plan priorities for future work.

2006-2010      Unmanned Aircraft

                      Unmanned aircraft were considered somewhere between science fiction and a joke in 2006.  Betsy Weatherhead and Prof. Brian Argrow developed the Civilian Applications of Unmanned Aircraft Systems, bringing together leaders from DoD, DHS, FAA, ICAO and academia to identify first applications for Unmanned Aircraft to test their safety and efficacy in a variety of applications.  Dr. Weatherhead led two groups:  one to explore meltponds over Greenland and one to evaluate images from unmanned aircraft over the Bering Sea.  The international group she founded to coordinate UAS efforts still exists and NOAA now has a fully funded UAS program which operates in conjunction with NASA.

2010-2012      Renewable Energy

                      Dr. Weatherhead worked closely with Dr. Melinda Marquis, NOAA, to identify key areas for the government to work on renewable energy.  She helped gather individuals, write proposals and clarify appropriate roles for improving weather forecasting that has resulted in a funded renewable energy program involving collaboration of both NOAA and DOE.  In the process, she led a set of international leaders to the AAAS meeting in Vancouver to work out appropriate roles for academia and government in supporting renewable energy research.  She continues to chair the renewable energy sessions at AGU each year, encouraging the next generation of scientists to contribute to this important field.

2012-2015      Weather Forecast Improvement

                      As the US continued to lose ground in its forecasting capabilities compared to a number of competitors in 2012, Dr. Weatherhead pulled together leaders from the public, private and academic communities to identify key steps to make advancements in weather.  The group worked together to identify key areas of agreement and then communicated those key findings broadly.  Dr. Weatherhead chaired four American Meteorological Society Summer Community Meetings, numerous face to face Forecast Improvement Group meetings and continues to work tirelessly to improve forecasting capabilities.  Her leadership in this area has been saluted by a number of organizations, including NOAA and AMS.

Current Projects

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